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4WD BUYERS GUIDE

Buying the right 4WD is critical and in this Buyers Guide, we highlight the strengths and weaknesses of new and used wagons, utes and heavy duty off-road vehicles. Also in the Buyers Guide are motorhomes and campervans. Many of the vehicles tested have video reports to let you see how they perform on and off road; and some also include tow tests. There are also suggestions for desirable bush modifications.

LATEST ARTICLES

BUYING ADVICE

Ute payloads aren’t what they seem

Every ute maker claims at least a nominal one-tonne payload figure and more than three tonnes trailer towing capacity for several 4WD utes in its range, but you need to check spec sheets and real-world tare weights for the true position.

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Hybrid 4WDs are the future in Australia

Every vehicle maker is now committed to electrification in some form on all new models. For Australian-market 4WDs it’s a certainty that we’ll see ‘real’ 4WDs – vehicles with true off-road capability – in increasing numbers in the next few years.

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4X4 CAMPERVANS

Kimberley Kruiswagen

Kimberley Kampers is celebrating 30 years as one of Australia’s longest-standing RV manufacturers with the launch of the deluxe Kruiswagen, based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter AWD van.

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Vanlife by Roadtrek AWD campervan

South Yarra Volkswagen Commercial Centre and Vanlife by Roadtrek came together to release a top-of-the-line luxury campervan, based on the VW Crafter and designed for Aussie conditions. 

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HEAVY DUTY OFF-ROAD VEHICLES

VW Crafter 4Motion

The all-Volkswagen Crafter is no longer a rebadged and repowered Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. The post-2018 Crafter is designed and made by VW and 4Motion models are available.

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Iveco Daily 4×4

Brilliant off road credentials and more than twice the payload of a ute ensured good early business for this machine. But transfer case dramas meant it was sold only into specific low-speed operations after 2019. A supposedly rectified model is due for release in 2024.

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4X4 MOTORHOMES

Auriga

The Perth-designed and built Auriga motorhome is built on Iveco’s Eurocargo ML150 4×4 platform by specialist cabinetry makers.

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About as Extreme as Earthcruiser can get

Earthcruiser’s first Extreme XTR330 6×6 was exactly that: extreme. A true go-almost-anywhere motorhome, with the expected top-shelf Earthcruiser home comforts, it was built on a greatly modified LandCruiser 79 cab/chassis.

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SOFT-ROADERS

Nissan Pathfinder

The post-2014 Nissan Pathfinder models – including the 2023 version –  were definite softroaders, with a monocoque body temporary spare tyre and no low range gearing. They also came with V6 petrol power.

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Subaru Outback

The Outback drifted somewhat from its off-roading roots in the early 2000s, but the 2015 model had enhanced 4WD capability. Upgrades were introduced in 2016 and 2021.

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UTES & CAB CHASSIS – LARGE

Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series

Since the first Land Cruisers came to Australia in the 1970s evolution, not revolution, has been the name of the game, but in 2022 the 70 Series became much more complex and added the HiLux diesel option for 2024.

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Ineos Grenadier Quartermaster

The Ineos Grenadier Quartermaster ute made its global debut at the July 2023 Goodwood Festival of Speed, in the UK. Developed and built alongside the Grenadier Station Wagon, the double cab pick-up has the same off-road capability as its stablemate.

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UTES & CAB CHASSIS – MEDIUM

Mazda BT-50

Mazda’s BT-50 became a Ford re-skin in 2011 and the 2021 model did the same on Isuzu Ute mechanicals. It was updated for 2022, 2023 and for 2024.

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Toyota HiLux

HiLux, the traditional market leading 4WD ute model, has been under Ford Ranger pressure since 2015 and lost its 4WD market leadership in 2017. However, upgraded models helped in 2018, 2019 and 2022. 48-volt electrics are coming in 2024.

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WAGONS – LARGE

Toyota LandCruiser Troop Carrier

Since the first Land Cruisers came to Australia in the 1970s evolution, not revolution, has been the name of the game, but in 2022 the 70 Series became much more complex and added the HiLux diesel option for 2024.

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Land Rover Defender

Land Rover diehards were disappointed with the design of the post-2020 Defender that was a more off-road capable Range Rover than a Defender. The only carry-over signature from the original Defender was aluminium bodywork. However, it’s here to stay and has been updated for 2024.

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WAGONS – MEDIUM

Toyota Prado

The post-2010 Prado range scored upgraded diesel and petrol engines in September 2015, six-speed transmissions and additional improvements for 2018 and 2020. The next-generation is due in mid-2024.

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Toyota LandCruiser 76 Series

Since the first Land Cruisers came to Australia in the 1970s evolution, not revolution, has been the name of the game, but in 2022 the 70 Series became much more complex and added the HiLux diesel option for 2024.

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WAGONS – SMALL

Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler owes its origins to warfare, but today is bought almost entirely by non-military users. Military Jeeps took a different design path in the 1960s, beginning with the M151 that featured monocoque construction and all-independent suspension. The 2024 range was previewed in mid-2023.

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Suzuki Jimny

The Suzuki Jimny was the replacement for the little Sierra and had more market appeal than its predecessor did. While being essentially as box-shaped as the Sierra the Jimny had much more style about it. The compact Suzuki Jimny three-door has been a marketing triumph and it’s being joined by a more practical five-door version later in 2023.

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